CAMDEN, N.J. - The Lehigh rowing team finished an up-and-down weekend at the Knecht Cup on Sunday, highlighted by strong performances from a pair of freshmen crews. In total, more than 50 schools from across the country competed in the regatta. The two-day event served as the Mountain Hawks’ final tuneup for next Saturday’s River Cup against archrival Lafayette.
“Overall, on the varsity end of things, it was a bit disappointing compared to what we were hoping for,” said Lehigh head coach Brian Conley. “On the freshmen side, it was very exciting and encouraging for the future of Lehigh rowing.”
Leading the way for the Mountain Hawks was the Men’s Freshmen Eight, who advanced all the way to the Petite Final. They posted a time of 6:30.93 in the semifinal race, falling just short of qualifying for the Grand Final. The crew then went on to a third-place finish in the Petite Final behind a time of 6:35.44.
“They upped the level of competition amongst themselves,” said Conley. “They made it through the heat pretty easily and had an exciting semifinal. They started off very slowly in the Petite Final, but showed their tenacity to ultimately get third.”
Also impressing was the Freshmen Four, who reached the semifinal on Saturday and then raced in the Third Level final on Sunday, garnering fourth with a time of 7:55.77.
“This was a huge step for them,” said Conley. “It’s especially good considering a couple weeks ago, they struggled in the Murphy Cup. This shows their gradual improvement.”
Leading the way on the women’s side was the Second Varsity Eight, which came in sixth in the preliminary heats, against some of the race’s strongest competitors.
“The crews they raced were all in the Grand Final,” said Conley. “They had the toughest heat out of everyone racing for Lehigh. They were able to hang with those crews who were nationally ranked for at least 1,000, if not 1,500 meters. The race experience of those crews really showed in the last 500. For us, getting that race experience will hopefully help later on in the season.”
In the end, Conley hopes that experience will pay off beginning with next weekend’s dual race against the rival Leopards.
“While we had disappointing results, it’s hopefully going to make our team a little bit hungrier for more consistent, steadier performances,” said Conley. “We’re known to have solid performances in the River Cup and hope to continue it next weekend.”